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Simona Halep Finds a New Haven

Aug 24th 2013
NEW HAVEN, Conn. - Too often in sport, one sees the athlete strike a disconsolate figure, a bundle
of nerves too tense to win and afraid to lose. In only the second WTA Premier
final of her career, Romania's Simona Halep would have been forgiven (even
perhaps expected) to encounter a wobbly moment or two as she attempted to close
out No. 3 seed and defending champion Petra Kvitova.
Instead, Halep stepped to the line and whacked her first ace of the match to
clinch her fourth career title, all of them in the last two months. The win
propels the Romanian into the top 20.

Simona Halep

“That was my dream, and now it's real,” said an overjoyed Halep, who hit more
than twice as many winners as errors and took advantage of Kvitova's erratic
Although the former Wimbledon champion was well below her best, Halep played what
she called “beautiful tennis,” dictating play with her backhand down the line
and, with titles on clay and grass earlier in the year, showing her comfort on
all surfaces.
“I am more aggressive now; I hit the ball stronger than before and I'm more
relaxed on the court,” Halep said when asked the secret to her all-court
It had been a whirlwind summer for the top-20 debutante. Coming into Rome with
an 8-9 record on the year, the 21-year-old Halep reached the semifinals of the
Premier Mandatory event as a qualifier, upsetting a slew of big names along the
way. From there, she achieved a rare double when she claimed her first two
career titles in back-to-back weeks and on two different surfaces: the
clay of Nuremberg and the grass of 's-Hertogenbosch.
“I didn't think I would get top 20 this year…I'm a little bit surprised!”
Halep said, genuinely taken back by her own success.
Kvitova too gave kudos to her opponent.
“She kept putting the ball where I wasn't, so that was difficult for me. She's a
very smart player and she moves very well. I can't say a number [on the
rankings] but she's dangerous,” acknowledged the Czech.
Heading into the final major of the year, Halep will be searching for her first big
result at this level. While her best finish at a major was a third round at the
Australian Open, she lost tough matches at Roland Garros and Wimbledon this year
to Carla Suarez Navarro and Li Na, respectively.


Simona Halep

“I will have to enjoy next week. It will be tough; I'm a little bit tired, but
it's the US Open,” Halep said rather matter-of-factly.
Having won her first three titles in smaller venues, a win in New Haven marks a
shift for Halep, who was called up to the ESPN booth after her win and now will
be one to watch during the fortnight in New York.
“I was speaking a lot and everybody was congratulating me. It was nice, and I
hope to have more of these things,” the New Haven champion declared.
 It was clear that everything felt very new to the young Romanian. For many, the
sudden increase in pressure has led to the collapse of many an up-and-comer. But
the difference between those players and Halep came across in her post-match
press conference.
“On TV, I'm more nervous. On court, I feel very natural,” said Halep with a laugh when asked about her comfort in front of the camera.
Her apparent ability to maintain perspective helped her to win the biggest title
of her career. This trait will continue to serve her well coming into the “crazy
city” of New York.